Fredericksburg Parent

April 2015

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16 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • April 2015 The Doctor Yum Project: Cultivating Healthier Eating Area businesses help youth build a foundation for a better future Creating a Culture H ere is a glance of local area businesses that are laying the foundation to create a culture of wellness in the Fredericksburg area. of Wellness BY KERRY L. PINTO Dr. Nimali Fernando, or "Doctor Yum" as she is affectionately known in the community, realized how a better diet could help kids achieve overall health. "In fact, so many of the complaints I saw in my office could be traced back to a poor diet," said the Fredericksburg-area pediatrician. "I thought that a hands-on approach to showing families how to feed their kids better would be more effective than counseling in a 15 minute office visit." Fernando created a recipe site (now and then began offering cooking classes for kids using local, seasonal produce and plant-based recipes. From there, she went on to implementing a preschool nutri- tion program, now offered at 16 schools in c entral Virginia. This program teaches children basic nutrition concepts and cooking skills to prepare simple, whole food snacks in the classroom. "The kids not only enjoy it but the data that we have gath- ered so far shows that it is changing the way those kids are eating at home, too," Fernando said. "Some of the teachers report to us that they are seeing a huge improvement in the willingness to try new foods and the quality of the foods that they are packing and bringing to school for snacks." Fernando hopes that establishing healthy habits at a young age will carry over to healthy eating habits as an adult. "Kids are impressionable and with the right approach healthy habits can be established early. A lifetime of great eating habits helps give kids the best chance for a long, healthy, and productive life." Minnieland Academy: Teaching Benevolence "It has always been our goal at Minnieland to be lead- ers and support our local community," said Crystal Varner, district director of Minnieland Academy. Minnieland Academy is encouraging students to fill bags to help replen- ish their local food banks. "In the month of January, we, as a company, donated 5,700 pounds of food. Those donations included con- tributions to FeedMore in Richmond and The Fredericksburg Food Bank in Fredericksburg," Varner said. The Fredericksburg and Richmond centers will also sponsor a Minnieland Day when Minnieland employees will offer their time to aid the food banks. Varner noted that children are like sponges and stressed the impor- tance of developing good habits early on. "The healthy habits that children learn will follow them throughout their lives and hopefully decrease unhealthy habits as they grow." M I N N I E L A N D A C A D E M Y E S T 1 9 7 2 MINNIELAND ACADEMY

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